Washington coach Steve Sarkisian met with reporters today for the final time before Saturday’s game at Stanford.
Among the highlights …
— Sarkisian said he thinks the Huskies are doing a much better job this season of living day by day instead of looking ahead to the big game at the end of the week. That wasn’t always the case in years past, he said, but the fact that this team is led by upperclassmen helps with that endeavor.
In the past, Sarkisian said, “I don’t think we were mature enough. I feel like we’d get into some of these games, we’d like to listen to what people had to say about us, or if we were supposed to win or not supposed to win. Any of those types of things are potential distractions – what if we win, what if we lose? Those are all things that I think used to get in our way a little bit. I think now our team doesn’t think like that. Our coaches don’t think like that. Today was about Thursday and Thursday’s practice and the tempo and speed at which we operate, our ability to execute really well on Thursday and understanding the gameplan to make all of us coaches feel good about it so we can enjoy our date night with our wives and that kind of stuff, so that’s the focus of the team.”
“They’re not at 7:30 Saturday night yet. It’s 11 o’clock on Thursday morning for these guys and they’re going to get ready and go to school and we’ll see them at dinner tonight at 5 o’clock. That’s what’s unique about this team. All of the stuff that everybody else would like to talk about, our guys really don’t talk about. They’re just happy that we’ve won the games that we’ve won and that we have a chance to play a really good football team Saturday.”
— As for the week of practice, Sarkisian said: “It’s been really good. I feel like our team has practiced really well. I don’t feel like they’re making this game out to be bigger than it is. It’s a football game that we get to play at 7:30 on Saturday. I think the preparation’s been good, which is the most important thing, the mental preparation and the physical preparation and applying the information we’ve received and putting it to use. Our team, again, I think we’re very mature, I think this group is led by juniors and seniors and not freshmen and sophomores. Those guys understand to follow the lead of our vets and to the younger players’ credit, they’ve done a good job of understanding their role that way and applying everything those guys are asking of them.”
— On preparing for Stanford’s defense: “One, we have to prepare for Stanford’s big personnel groupings they put on the field – the extra linemen, the tight ends. So that part was different. Obviously the huddle scenario was different in the fact that they’re huddling. But Stanford has a lot of offense that’s similar to ours as well. There’s a lot of variety to what they do today as opposed to where they were a year ago. There’s quarterback runs involved, there’s zone reads involved, there’s shovel passes, a lot of open, spread out sets. It’s not just lining up against the big guys. It wasn’t as drastically different as maybe a year ago, where they were so prevalent on those big guys and all those tight ends on the field. They give you a lot more variety now. So the balance for our defense of making sure we’re working on enough of each of the varieties of offenses they possess was key for us this week.”
— Sarkisian said that in past seasons, he sometimes included players on the travel roster who he knew weren’t going to play, because the roster wasn’t deep enough to travel 70 available players. He can’t do that anymore, he said, because the Huskies’ depth has improved.
Making the travel cuts this week “was difficult because sometimes I like to bring guys that I know are redshirting for the sake of bringing them to get them some of that experience. We’re at a point now where our roster’s so deep, we can’t really afford to do that. There’s been years past where we’ve been six or seven short and I’m just bringing guys knowing they couldn’t play, whether they were injured or redshirting, just for the sake of filling up the 70 spots. Now we’re at a place where we’re bringing 70 guys that all could have a role in contributing to our success on Saturday.”
— Sarkisian said injuries can always change things, but that as of now, he doesn’t expect to play any more true freshmen than those who have already played.
“That’s pretty safe to say. But again, injuries are injuries, and when they occur you can’t avoid them once they occur,” he said. “That can change some of our train of thought, but I like where we’re at with the freshmen that we’ve played and I’m hopeful that come the end of the season, that’s the same number.”
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple